I'm Losing Sleep in My Creepy French House

France

I do not appreciate horror. For me, the best parts of the Halloween season include trick-or-treating, babies dressed up as pumpkins, and flickery Jack-O-Lanterns in a temperate Southern October – not haunted houses, fake blood, or any kind of recreational fear.

When The Grudge came out, all it took was the trailer to spook me. Once, in the shower, my faucet made a sound like the Grudge monster’s awful throat noises, and I screamed, streaking into the hall. My dad and brothers came running to see what was wrong, only to find me dripping wet and barely decent, thanks to a hastily-grabbed towel. They scratched their heads to see me that shaken up over a film I hadn’t even watched. I sheepishly returned to shampooing.

So, no, I’m not a fan of scary movies. I’m even less of a fan of living one.

I like to think of this wall as maroon, but for the purposes of this article we'll say it's blood red.

When the coordinator of my French teaching assistant program swooped in to save me after a week of apartment hunting, I was over the moon about the spot she’d found. A friend of hers had an old family home with a room to rent for cheap, and I snapped it up immediately. Within a couple days, I was out of my Airbnb and settling into my empty, creaky French house surrounded by trees, cows, and a handful of neighbors probably too far off to hear me scream.

To be fair, my landlady is a wonderful woman who takes good care of me and invites me over for lunch every Sunday. She is by no means the typical old lady in a horror movie who lures an innocent young woman into a death trap. Not intentionally, at least. To her, this is the nostalgic house where she grew up and now reunites with her family on vacation. To me, it’s Spook Town, population: Julia.

Haunted Doll Watch

Well, so I can’t 100% confirm that this doll is haunted. That being said, I can’t 100% deny that it’s haunted, either. Make whatever conclusions you’d like.

Hello, children

This is the face that greets me when I walk down the stairs every morning. I can’t help but stare at it as I approach, then glance over my shoulder whenever I pass it by – just to make sure it hasn’t moved since the last time I checked. After nine months together, this little guy has yet to hop off his shelf, but I’m still waiting for the day I wake up to find it’s crawled into bed beside me.

One pitch black morning, deep into wintertime, I came down the stairs and felt the floor, ice cold through my socks. Clearly, a tile floor is always going to have a bit of a chill when it’s January in a drafty old house, but this felt nearly frozen. Plus there were suddenly dry leaves scattered everywhere, and it felt like a wind was blowing through the kitchen. Creepy Doll hadn’t moved, but how did I know it hadn’t made its mischief, then hoisted itself back onto the cabinet before I woke up?

I tiptoed into the kitchen, clutching my ratty robe closer in the chill and stepped over more leaves. Everything was dark, but when I flicked on a light I finally found the living room’s huge windows gaping open. It had been a windy night, so I closed them and went on with my morning, telling myself that they were simply blown open in the storm. But I couldn’t help wondering if my little doll friend had stronger arms than I realized.

Those windows are thick. It takes a good amount of force to get those suckers open.

Of course, I have heard several recommendations to simply hide it away in a drawer to lessen the creep factor, but that would involve making physical contact with the doll, something I refuse to do. Also, if it were out of sight, it would no longer be under my daily watchful eye. Who knows what kind of madness it would get up to? Can’t let that little guy get the best of me.

The Creepiest of Crawlies

I’ve never had to deal with so many spiders in my entire life, and I used to be a semi-regular camper. Those little tent bugs have nothing on the monsters I’ve found crawling around in here. 

Warning: slightly blurry spider photo to come

Enjoy the following list of locations in which I’ve made eight-legged friends, big and small: in my shower, beside the toilet, on my bed, beside my bed, on the kitchen table, on the ceiling, and right outside my back door.

This does not include the daddy long-legs that just chill on their webs in the corners. Those guys can hang. They never leave their little spots, and although the thing about their mouths being too small to bite is a myth, they don’t typically harm humans. Plus they apparently prey on venomous spiders, so they’re welcome in this monster house. Well, in moderation.

No, the spiders that have made me yelp, curse, and almost cry are these big ol’ brown ones that don’t just watch benevolently from their cozy little webs. They appear out of nowhere, right when I’m at my most vulnerable: getting ready to shower, snuggling into bed, or peeing. Beside-the-toilet spidey even went on the offensive, skittering toward my toes when I was trying to sneak up and trap him in a cup to throw, panicked, out the back door.

Somehow the bigger they are, the more scared I am to squish them. So wear shoes if you ever go strolling through my backyard, lest you meet up with some of my evicted houseguests.

Behold shower spidey. My hair went unwashed for days as I got up the courage to throw him outside.

I’ve only had one spider mishap today, so my hope is that they’re spreading the news among their crawly friends that this house is closed for business. Now I just have to figure out what to do about the hornet’s nest outside my kitchen window.

Home Sweet Home?

Ultimately, I’m just sticking with it. I didn’t even get into all the random noises that pop up out of nowhere, particularly at night when I’m trying and failing to sleep. At one point there was nighttime scritch-scratching coming from the ceiling and walls that mysteriously disappeared after a week or so. It’s basically everything that makes Zak Bagans say whoah bro in Ghost Adventures, except that I just try to rationalize it as a radiator or settling walls instead of testing it for electromagnetic fields.

Invasive critters or invasive spirits? You decide.

Despite this, plus the haunted doll, spiders, and hornets, I like it here. Usually. Getting a house to myself, for the most part, fully furnished, for the price of a small room, is worth a handful of spooks and scares. Not to mention my delightful, definitely not scary, landlady.

Besides, it’s character building, right? Maybe this’ll raise my fear tolerance and I’ll be spook-proofed enough to actually watch The Grudge one day. Even the creepy puppet and I are coming to an understanding now.

Sometimes I wish him sweet dreams before bed. Sometimes he says it back.

Happy Halloween, y’all!

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